Beware the extemes.

It’s about this time every year that I start to feel bad.  Everyone has their own Way, and my Way is NOT heat!  So as I’m sitting in the sauna, or breaking personal records in my workouts, or pulling multiple late-nights for work this week, it should be no surprise I’m daydreaming about swimming, or going through all the ice in my freezer twice a day, or craving a good rain storm. 

When I don’t listen to the messages my body and brain are telling me, I find myself extra irritable, my heart-rate spiking, and then I’m down and out with a raging headache.  I should know better.  It’s a Yin-Yang thing—meaning, when you hit an extreme, you’re pulled back toward balance.

Maybe you’re the opposite.  Perhaps at the height of winter, you find yourself daydreaming of a trip to the tropics, signing up for a session at a local sauna, or longing for a sunny window.  Or perhaps your bones begin to ache, you have trouble getting motivated, or end up with a stiff neck and headache. 

Or maybe in the windy and dry autumn you daydream of having warm oil rubbed on your skin, feel like you could cry over every gum commercial on tv, and end up with a headache from coughing.

Or maybe in the wet days of spring you daydream of taking a camel ride across a desert, feel extra anxious, and end up with a headache from your eyes and sinus being perpetually inflamed.

This is your body’s way of saying you’ve hit an extreme and need to come back into balance.  But everyone’s balance is different because every person is made up of a different mix of the Five Elements — Metal, Water, Wood, Fire, Earth. 

In Qigong Theory, each of the Five Elements supports (or generates) another element and controls another element.  For example, Fire is supported by wood and controlled by water.  Makes sense, right?  Wood feeds a fire and water puts it out.  But it can also work more subtly too.

When you need more fire in your life, look to the energy of wood (grow, lengthen and strengthen).  This could be finding a new hobby, learning something new, or strengthening your connection to something you care about.  When you need to control the fire in your life, look to the energy of water (sink, settle and flow).  This could be taking time to meditate, completing anything that’s left undone, or getting rid of plans on your calendar to just let the day take you where it may.

Here are some ways the energy of the elements can be used:

  • Metal = purge, condense, and create structure.  Declutter your house or your closet, review your priorities and your activities to align them, take control of your calendar or your meal plan or another area of your life that could use a plan.
  • Water = sink, settle and flow.  Meditate, nap, complete tasks before taking on anything new, be open to whatever crosses your path, find something that soothes you and make that a priority.
  • Wood = grow, lengthen and strengthen.  Learn something new, start a new hobby, do something outside your comfort zone, find ways to strengthen your connection to people or activities that matter to you, take up weight training.
  • Fire = expand, circulate and raise.  Make new friends, go to parties and festivals, take long walks or runs, return to something you loved as a child, have fun, laugh and follow your heart.
  • Earth = attune, nourish and balance.  Indulge your senses to better understand where you are and who you are and what you want; eat food that makes you feel good, walk barefoot and get your hands in the dirt, be kind to yourself and all the life around you.  And find out what extremes you might be flirting with, as well as ways you might benefit from coming back into balance. 

Your body is a source of wisdom.  What does your body say you need today?